FERNWOOD, Miss. (WLBT) - Donald Lee Izzett Jr., a student at Frostburg State University in Maryland, last spoke to his mother on May 14, 1995.
After that, a speeding ticket placed him in Arizona, and he was allegedly last seen in California in July of that year.
But in the back of a little wooded subdivision in Fernwood is where the investigation has focused. An alleged eyewitness told police that Izzett was shot three times and that his killers attempted to burn his body and bury it there. Twice before the ground there has been searched, and to no avail.
A third archaeological dig has taken place in recent weeks – one paid for by Izzett’s mother, Debra Skelley.
In the spot where some possible bone chips were found last week, loved ones of Izzett’s have put up a flower memorial to where officials say there was a “burn event” years ago.
Neither of Skelley’s attorneys, Bill Goodwin or Ronnie Whittington, would speak to us about the case, and Pike County Sheriff Kenny Cotton is at a convention on the coast.
But District Attorney Dee Bates is holding the case close to his vest until the results of the tests are clear.
“I really can’t talk much about the find or if there’s anything there, because the case is under investigation," he said. "There were things reported located, and anything viewed to be a part of the investigation has been sent to an appropriate lab, to Quantico or another location to be tested.”
Bates credits Skelley for keeping the investigation alive through the years. While it can be hard to pull a cold case together after 24 years, Bates says he wants to do it right for justice and for Skelley.
“There’s a number of different challenges you actually have in cold cases, it’s reacquiring old info and new info, and just trying to find closure for the victim’s mother," Bates said. "That’s one of the things we really want to try to do.”
Bates is also holding back on discussing whether there are suspects or not, but the dig was kicked off by a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Skelley against Shane Guenther, formerly of Fernwood and now of Bremerton, Washington.